If there's a thing to praise when talking about Astra's way to interact with the urban environment, it's the steering system. With a little effort, you can make the steering wheel spin like the wheel of fortune and trust us, the comparison is not at all exaggerated. Opel has used a rack-mounted motor, rather than a steering column-installed one, which eases the steering wheel movements by reducing its whole assembly weight.
Visibility is clearly among the best in the class, while the driving position mostly reminds of a truly sports cars, rather than a compact hatchback. The suspension system is based on Opel's already-popular Flex Ride system that provides three predefined modes, each to be used depending on driving style and on-road conditions.
Normal, Sport and Tour do nothing more than to change the setup of the suspension configuration, thus backing the way the car performs in any given conditions. In Normal mode, Astra does a pretty good job to reduce shocks and shakes caused by uneven roads or speed limiters thanks to a rear combination for a compound crank with a Watt link. Not only that this setup improves comfort, but it also enhances stability and cornering, without affecting other technical features of the car.
The Sport mode is what sets the car apart. Pressing the Sport button on the dashboard turns the instrument panel into red which gives a special sporty feeling to the driver, although some of you think that it's rather a more romantic atmosphere, somehow reminding of Amsterdam and the Red Light District.
Fuel consumption, at least on paper, is impressive. But don't expect the same to continue in real life too because, as most of us already know by now, there's a pretty big difference between what carmakers and drivers express through the term “efficiency”. If you're asking its papa, Opel Astra should burn somewhere around 8.8 l/100km (26.7 mpg) in urban traffic conditions, while real figures go in between 10.5 and 11.0 l/100km (22.4 and 21.3 mpg). Of course, this is only some sort of estimate because our test car had no on-board computer, so we just had to use our basic math knowledge to see how much fuel Astra burns to cover 100 kilometers.
Although Opel has introduced the Astra as a technologically-advanced model, there's no start-stop function that would contribute to the overall fuel consumption figures.
The transmission system is what makes the whole city driving session less pleasant. The transmission setup, clearly optimized for sporty driving and shifting is hard from and to any gear. Sure, it could be a little easier if you're ready to push hard on the stick shift but you ladies won't be too happy with it. An automatic transmission is also available across the range and, although it could affect efficiency more or less, be sure to consider it when buying the new Astra.
The toughest exam was definitely parking, as the car was not equipped with parking assistance systems so the only way to get into a parking spot was to rely on our skills and, of course, on prayers. A little help comes from the options list, where a special package is available for those who're looking for a safe parking maneuver, obviously for some extra money.Continue reading
Hold on, Lou Cheeka would like to say something...
Well, how 'bout that? Another hatchback that thinks it can beat the Golf. Oh my God, I can't believe they're still trying to fight with the Golf. It's absolutely lolish (huh, that's a term I invented a long time ago when I started using online dating services).
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